HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


If "No Reservations" came to Toronto, where would Anthony Bourdain go?

I've been on a big "No Reservations" kick, watching all the dvd's of the series. It got me thinking, If Anthony Bourdain came to Toronto, where would he go? Curious to see how other chows imagine this episode.

I'm thinking a stop at SLM for sure. Maybe the eggplant sandwich? or pemeal? or fish sandwich? Chinatown and kensington no doubt. Pho maybe? Dim sum? Throw in a fine dining establishment, how about canoe, and maybe a street dog to end it all off. He'd probably eat in the restaurant at the top of the CN tower too, but definately more for the view.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Toronto would rightfully be skipped all together, we've just gotten out of our lemon grass risotto faze and have a lot of catching up to do. Thank god places like the Black Hoof have opened. Street food, what street food?

    3 Replies
    1. re: chef_vagabond

      Well, true about the street food. Hopefully that will change in the future.
      I just think he'd eat a dog because there are stands on every corner. Anthony Bourdain doesn't enjoy all the food in his episodes, sometimes he eats at places simply for tradition. If the food means something to the city or has significance he'll try it. The whole point of the show is to showcase what a city has to offer in terms of food, good or bad, isn't it?

      1. re: pancake

        Sorry, pancake, I get Bourdain and the GTA's culinary richness, it's just no Les Halles, St. John's or Bangkok. Ya, Anthony Bourdain in Portugal for a pig slaughter one day, the next he's in Kensington Market buying organic produce, sorry, it's just not the same.

      2. re: chef_vagabond

        Read Bourdain's "Cook's Tour"? I think he'd love Toronto. Why? Ease of access to an incredible range of food nestled in the GTA.Not sure you "get" Bourdain or the GTA's culinary richness, chef vagabond.

      3. Yeah seriously, good to see that everyone loves this city...

        i'd choose between...
        Eigensinn farm (or maybe that doesn't count)
        johnny's hamburgers
        Black Hoof
        Canoe (for the obligatory scenic shots and city dialogue)
        nota bene (for emphasis on local ingredients)
        aunties and uncles/sunset grill/random brunch spot
        tattoo bar/pravda/biermarkt/ for bar hopping

        13 Replies
        1. re: Suresh

          Johnny's Hamburgers? Only if you wanted Bourdain to never visit Toronto again. Although I don't the food is that great, a visit to the International Food Court at the downsview farmer's market and weekend bazaar would be something that he might find interesting. Also, the asian night market in Markham would be right up his alley.

          1. re: Suresh

            I think Eigensinn Farm should definitely count as Toronto, if they went to Whistler and Vancouver Island for the Vancouver episode.. somehow I think Rain would be included in a Toronto episode.. Guy Rubino does some very innovative fusion dishes that I've not seen in other cities.. But then.. I echo the sentiments that Toronto should be skipped altogether and we should remain jealous of our Vancouver cousins who already have an episode. I want more episodes of No Reservations Singapore! LOL

            1. re: vincechan

              Just had a thought... knowing Tony's passion for artery clogging deathwishes... maybe he would like to pay a visit to Dangerous Dan's Diner to get the Quad C's (Coronary Colon Clogger Combo) or The Coronary Burger Special. I'd like to be there when he does! LOL

              1. re: vincechan

                to be honest, he would probably take one bite and spit it out...

                1. re: duckdown

                  most generic place ever. how is this unique to toronto?

                    1. re: duckdown

                      he was referring to Suresh's post above.

              1. re: Suresh

                Tattoo? he'd hate that place!. its too flashy. i think the bovine is a little more his speed

                1. re: Suresh

                  Johnny Burger, I miss working in the Vic Park area for that reason ONLY!!

                2. He did come visit Toronto a while back. Went to SLM for peameal bacon sandwich and Starfish for oysters.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Too bad Bourdain's local handlers' outlook was so damn narrow! Would have been fun to see him eat his way through Markham.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      And he came to Kensington Market for empanadas. It was all covered in the papers while he was promoting "The Nasty Bits"...(I think...)

                      Anyway, I bet he'd dig little India during a festive summer evening.

                      But let's not forget the possibility that if he did a show here, he might turn all of us on to some new stuff. It's a big-ass city!

                    2. Nice to see how many people love this city.

                      Unfortunately for us, NR wouldn't come here. What TO has to offer is a diverse selection of foods from around the world. You can eat from all corners of the globe in one day. What TO doesn't have a lot of is things it can call it's own. Things you can't get anywhere else. At least, not enough in my mind.
                      So the question would become, why would he come here for Greek, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Portuguese or what have you when he can go to those countries??


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Davwud

                        Because the question wasn't what interesting food experiences Toronto has, it was what food experience does Toronto have that is worthy of a Bourdain show.

                        1. re: Davwud

                          Sushi pizza? Some people say Sushi pizza came from TO.

                        2. Folks, rather than declaring Toronto unworthy or complain about those who have, we'd ask that you focus the discussion on what interesting and unique chow experiences Toronto does have to offer. We've removed a number of posts that offer no suggestions and just attack the concept of the thread or the other posters' replies.

                          1. TO is a pretty good place to find many examples of decent food from all over the world. But so is NY and also LA to a large extent (although people tell me that we have better West Indian food). I am not sure there is a uniquely TO experience that would make for good television, expecially since he's already done NY and LA as well as all the other countries that are represented by food in TO. St. Lawrence market and Kensington? Give me a break. These places are only special to us because we live in TO and these places offer us a different experience to our own day to day. Almost every major city in the world will have their own St. Lawrence and Kensington experience and most will be better than ours. Don't get me wrong. I love TO as a foodie, but I don't think it makes for good television and I don't for a second believe that we can offer an experience that Bourdain hasn't already had or can't get anywhere else.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: theel

                              SLM is rated as one of the top markets of it's type in the world. Kensington seems like it would be right up his alley. Other than those, where would you go??

                              I guess you could do Toronto/Ontairo. Send him down to wine country. Get him out for some fresh Lake Erie Perch. Send him out to Menonite country. Perhaps on a fishing trip up north.


                              1. re: Davwud

                                I think a TO/Ontario thing would be a good idea. I don't know about fishing, he's had woeful history with catching anything in any kind of water. It'll probably end up being a frozen fish attached to the end of a hook for the camera. Maybe he can do a show comparing the various ethnic food experiences we can get in TO with the rest of North America's major cities or maybe the countries of origin themselves. I've always wanted to know how authentic our flavours are in TO. We've already established a disappointing lack of real Thai and Malaysian/Singapore foods on Chowhound. I wonder how our various Middle Eastern, Korean, South Asian, West Indian, European, African restos compare to the rest the world's major cities. Anybody have experience with ethnic foods in other Major cities across the world. I usually just emerse myself in the local foods when I travel. And the obligatory stop in the local Chinatown if there is a significant one, since I'm asian. We've got better Chinese than London, England and there's no Dim Sum really in Quebec for example. But the Vietnamese food in Paris is really, really good.

                                1. re: theel

                                  why would you want that show to come here and focus on asian? we live in a province that has fantastic agriculture and everyone wants Bourdain to try food that's imported?? look around you! we have great farmers doing great things with flora and fauna!! you've got top meadow's farms doing great beef, black bow farms doing great berkshire pork, grass roots doing poultry, flintshire farms does pheasant, soiled reputations growing incredible veg, vickies veggies, the kawartha ecological growers coming together to supply us with an incredible array of sustainable food stuffs and not to meantion all the great wineries we have to offer! yes, mind you they all lay outside of the city, but they all ship here and you can find their stuff through out toronto! you think when he visits other their produce grows IN the city? come on! toronto is the place ontario comes to when they want their goods turned into spectacular meals! be proud of this city, we're catching on to the local movement. there are a lot of great chefs, with good hearts, doing great things in toronto, being inspired by the countries that colonized our country aka france, england and italy. let's stand behind this city, we're becoming a force to recon with in the culinary world!

                                  1. re: locachef

                                    Hear hear locachef. I agree 100%. We live in the only nation in the world that treats their films as though they're foreign films and ignore our bands until they've been accepted south of the border. It's time we got over our inferiority complex and stood proudly. We have terrific, bountiful farms and a budding wine industry whose goods are being adroitly handled by the fine chefs of Toronto.

                                    Whoever said the SLM isn't as good as other cities around the world, think again. I make a point of visiting the local markets wherever I travel. SLM is one of the best experiences I have had to date. Thank goodness its been designed for comfort year 'round.

                                    As for where Bourdain would go, I suggest a road map of resto's featuring New World Cuisine that is special to Toronto. Every restaurant that devotes itself to using local goods must reinvent the cuisine from which it came. Kudos to places like Zucca that showcase our wares. Is it Modern Italian? No, it's New World Italian.

                                    1. re: locachef

                                      I never said he should focus on asian. I said I was asian so I visit local asian eateries when I travel to satisfy my own curiosity. I agree that TO is a good food city. I love being able to eat around the world in one day, however, I am just saying that I'm not there's anything in TO that he hasn't already seen. Local area produce? He's been to lots of places that do that. Do our chefs, great as they may be, do anything really so different with them? Is the food scene in TO so different from all the places he has been in North America that he could devote an entire show? Most cities in North America don't deserve a show. I can buy NY but I didn't even really enjoy the LA episode. Even his Pacific North-West (a 'bastion' of american food culture) show was so-so aside from Seattle (OK, the donut place was pretty interesting). I'm not saying TO is not a good place to eat, its wonderful. I just don't see an episode here by itself.

                                      1. re: locachef

                                        Thank you for reminding everyone to be thankful for what we have right here. I would love to pontificate on the food of other nations, but I can't afford to go anywhere, so I really, really appreciate that I can try new food experiences in my own province. I don't live in Toronto - I live in the boonies everyone is complaining about, so for me a trip to Toronto is a chance to eat, and eat well. I watch No Reservations. I don't think Tony Bourdain would turn down a chance to eat good food with a bunch of chowhounds. After all, he did go to Las Vegas...

                                      2. re: theel

                                        I love Sukhothai and am glad to see them opening another authentic resto on Adelaide St. http://www.torontolife.com/daily/dail...

                                        274 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                                  2. It is not just about the food, it is about the story.

                                    I agree with the SLM and Kensington and the Brickworks farmers markets all good stories and good food.

                                    Caplansky's is a great story and a unique Toronto experience

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: blogs

                                      Caplansky's for sure, and it'd be right up his alley

                                      Draught beer and in-house homemade smoked meat? What's not to love

                                      And the "dank" atmosphere would be perfect for him, haha

                                      1. re: duckdown

                                        if there's a sheltered spot for outside for him to have a smoke, perfect.

                                        1. re: JamieK

                                          He's stopped smoking, I was surprised to learn.

                                          I think there are plenty of places he could visit in Toronto. Caplansky's is one. SLM is probably too tame. I think a trip to Eiseginn Farm would qualify as "toronto" and would be show-worthy. Face it, it's television, and the producer's imagination can make something out of nothing. the theme could be 'is toronto really a boring city' and the conclusion is that 'yes, but underneath the surface, there's some crazy sh*t going on"

                                          He did a show on Vancouver. Seriously, what makes the Vancouver cuisine scene so much more worthy of a show versus Toronto? No knock on Vancouver, more to say that T.O. can at least match it. Seriously, a recurring theme on his show is hot dogs. We've got street meat. He can wax poetically on the superiority of our street hot dog scene versus that of New York's.

                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                            Good thing you didn't say that on the New York board, grandgourmand, haha!

                                            Although I have my own complaints about Toronto and certain types of food, Toronto is a good city to eat in. Sure, we aren't bursting at the seams with Michelin-starred restaurants, we don't have celebrity chefs from around the world vying for spots in our boutique hotels or classy properties. We do, though, have a very diverse culinary scene.

                                            Our markets may not be the same as those elsewhere, but the SLM is a very good market from what I've seen, and Bourdain could grab a peameal bacon sandwich.

                                            Sure, you could focus exclusively on local food, but really great Chinese is something that is pretty special in Toronto, and definitely worth noting.

                                            We may not have the culinary heritage (or "strange" eats to intrigue an American viewing audience) of some locations, but Toronto is a good city for eating in general, and I don't see how Bourdain, if he wanted to, couldn't fill up his allotted time with interesting dining experiences. Moreover, if you included other places in Ontario (wine country, for example), it could make for a pretty decent episode. Sure, we might not find it as interesting because we live here, but those who don't would likely think just the opposite.

                                            1. re: tjr

                                              I agree TJR. Maybe it's because I live and eat here everyday that I can't see the stories to be found.

                                      1. re: sleepy

                                        I think there would be plenty for him to see here
                                        Eisingten Farm
                                        China town north (highway 7 and baview)
                                        Black Hoof
                                        little india
                                        Cumbraes, Cheese boutique
                                        Johhny Burger
                                        Korea Town
                                        Little Portugal

                                        There is plety to see do and taste here. i am not sure if any one place woudl be so unique. Toronto's uniqueness comes form its vareity.

                                        1. re: Epicure3333

                                          With all do respect to the Johnny's Burgers lovers out there. Seriously??


                                      2. Lets not get too down on TO. Its the 2000s and every major city has one restaurant of each type of ethnicity. But what Toronto has, is many many restaurants of different ethnicities. From my office in the west end I can visit no less than 5 different places for PHO, two Elsalvadorian, three Peruvian, 200 Italian, etc..... No other cities can compare with the amount of different cultures wholly represented in TO.

                                        But to answer the original post: I think Pea-meal Bacon is a must. Its not the same in the US. A trip to Algonquin park might be good, especially if they hunt some deer. Maybe even a Beaver Tail, (I know its commercial) but eating one with a nice hot chocolate after working up an appetite on the Rideau Canal is a small bit of heaven.

                                        1. Taste of the Danforth is something I can see him doing...There's nothing spectacular in terms of food but thousands of Torontonians enjoy the event every year. You've got bars along the whole street, you've got music and tons of meat. It's not exactly Toronto, but the Niagara region would also be pretty interesting as well...more booze and food.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: ragged25

                                              on that note he could prob do an entire episode on the various food festivals that go on here during the summer. theres one pretty much every weekend.

                                            2. he could possibly go to one of the lakes up north and enjoy a nice shore lunch of walleye, go hunting with some natives to try their food... that would be more of an ontario show though, with focus on toronto, like how they did quebec, montreal... go to the breweries and maybe a donut factory where he can wear a fashionable hairnet... he could also go on a crazy eating spree where he could try to eat one of every ethnic dish in the city...

                                              1. Caplansky's for sure. beerbistro for some good food and better beer than Tony has been drinking throughout the series. Splendido for high-end fare.

                                                If a trek up north is done, Mad Michael's up near Midland.

                                                1. I would take different approach to this. To pitch Toronto as a place interesting for him to visit, why not emphasize the huge variety of home-style cooking restaurants that are all over the city (and slightly outside)? Some of my favourite places are mom-and-pop shops that serve home-cooked, unpretentious but yummy foods ... from all over the world! What comes to my mind are places like the Roti shops near Honest Eds that I used to go to as a student, the Indian / African take-out place in Richmond Hill that a couple of seniors are running, my favourite Thai place that a mother runs with her two kids in a tiny space in North York, many of those Korean late-night family style restaurants on Yonge & Finch (complete with Karaoke rooms next door) etc... Isn't that the big plus about living in the GTA?

                                                  1. I would take him to O Mei for the Giant East Coast Lobster 4 ways! So far, I don't think he has experience eating a giant beast cooked like that?!

                                                    O Mei
                                                    248 Steeles Ave W, Thornhill, ON L4J1A1, CA

                                                    1. I think he should come around early-mid September when the Feast Of Fields is on. One day of organic eating! Last time I went they had a group from Brazil roast an entire side of beef. Many of T.O's top chefs have a booth and don't get me started on the micro-breweries!
                                                      ...mmmmmm beery goodness.